April 13th, 2004


-c help and reuse

Never underestimate either -c help or reuse, two astonishing MIT subcommunities.

No matter what the question I post to -c help, there's always someone who knows more about it than I do, who can give me an answer. Now, I'm not really a brilliant hacker or a serious expert in anything in particular (though I may be one of the MIT experts on mailman), so it makes some sense that there's people more brilliant than I am at anything. But the great part is that there's all these clever well-informed people who are willing to answer questions in addition to whatever else they're doing with their day. For free, for nothing more than personal warm fuzzies of demonstrating oneself to be smart. http://www.acm.org/sigchi/chi96/proceedings/papers/Ackerman/ack_txt.htm was an interesting paper on -i help, and it discusses zephyr communities in a more coherent academic fashion than you normally see.

And then there's reuse. No matter what it is, the DVD player that doesn't work or the wind chime with glazed brides or the 5.12 textbook from seventeen years ago, someone will be happy to take it off your hands and come away feeling happy. In my spring cleaning, I feel guilty throwing stuff away, but the feelings of guilt aren't sufficient to make me want to keep any of the above. What luck, that there is always someone who wants it, and that there is such a convenient interface for connecting us all together! (And that interdepartmental mail is generally happy to deliver arbitrary small to medium packages...)

I've a clock that won't work
And an old telephone
A broken umbrella, a rusty trombone
And I am delighted to call them my own!
I love them because they're trash
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